Vernon employee tests positive for the coronavirus

Vernon. The employee is asymptomatic and quarantining at home, said Mayor Howard Burrell. The mayor’s office directed two other employees to get tested and ordered a deep cleaning of the municipal center. The Sussex County Health Department has begun contact tracing.

Vernon /
28 Jul 2020 | 12:37

A Vernon municipal employee has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mayor Howard Burrell said she called the mayor’s office on July 22 to report her test result. She is the first Vernon employee to test positive for the virus, he said. So far she asymptomatic and went immediately into quarantine, he said.

“This employee had been away from her work station and out of the Municipal Center on vacation since July 18, five days before her positive COVID-19 test,” said Burrell.

He said that within an hour of being notified of the test result, he met with the other employees who work in the Municipal Center. They arranged to have the center sanitized by an outside company that uses a disinfectant approved by the Centers for Disease Control to deep-clean the infected employee’s work area, the lunch room, and the women’s restroom. Burrell said the sanitization work was underway the following day.

“This employee’s work station is located in a closed door office that interacts with the public through half-inch bullet-proof glass,” Burrell said. “In addition, when this employee did interact with members of the public, she did so while wearing gloves. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that any members of the public were exposed to the virus via contact with our employee.”

Two other employees who work in the same office were directed to immediately get tested and, as they await the results, to self-quarantine while working from home, Burrell said.

The mayor’s office reported the test result to the Sussex County Health Department, which started CDC-approved contact tracing protocols.

Burrell said the infected employed was tested at the direction of her doctor “as part of a pre-medical procedure evaluation.”

“We contacted the employee today (July 23) and she advises that she continues to feel well, and still has no outward COVID-19 symptoms,” he said.

Vernon takes virus seriously

Burrell said Vernon is doing an effective job containing what he calls “this predatory virus.” While Vernon Township has 17% of the population of Sussex County, he said, its 137 confirmed cases as of July 23 make up just 11% of the county’s total 1,304 confirmed cases.

He said the township has purchased equipment and a supply of CDC-approved sanitizer for the regular disinfection of the Municipal Center, parks and playground equipment, in addition to the facilities and equipment of the first responders and the Department of Public Works. Municipal Center employees are supplied with gloves and face masks, along with clear protective acrylic barriers and six-foot social distancing markers at service counters where the public interacts with employees. An ultra-violet cleaning lights system has been installed in the Municipal Center’s HVAC system.

“All indications are that this COVID-19 virus will be with us for a while,” said Burrell. “This is part of what I call our ‘new normal.’”

“This employee’s work station is located in a closed door office that interacts with the public through half-inch bullet-proof glass. When this employee did interact with members of the public, she did so while wearing gloves. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that any members of the public were exposed to the virus via contact with our employee.” --Mayor Howard Burrell